Trump heads to Pennsylvania, but don't call it a campaign trip
19 January, 2018, 02:33
On Jan. 18, President Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of about 200 invited guests at H&K Equipment in North Fayette Township, extolling the benefits of the recently passed tax-cut bill.
Despite the appearance of a president zagging while everyone else was zigging, Trump looked fired up as he headed to Pennsylvania for either official government business or a campaign event - depending on which Republican was speaking.
Trump did devote most of his 25-minute speech to what he called the benefits of the tax cuts he signed into law late a year ago, from bonus and job announcements by various companies to the $2.7 million capital investment pledged by H&K Equipment.
On Wednesday, House Republicans were briefed about the midterm map and said they expect Trump to make an effort to lift them in places like this corner of Pennsylvania.
The president tweets Thursday: "Will be going to Pennsylvania today in order to give my total support to RICK SACCONE, running for Congress in a Special Election (March 13)".
He also gave a lift to Rick Saccone, a local state lawmaker and Republican nominee for the 18th Congressional District seat.
"Rick is a great guy, I think he is going to do very well", Trump said, according to pool reports, after a tour of H&K Equipment, which sells and services lift trucks and other machinery.
Republicans are hoping Thursday's visit - and potential future with Vice President Mike Pence - sparks enthusiasm with local voters, many of whom may not yet be aware of the election less than two months away.
Lamb is positioning himself as pragmatic centrist at a time when the Republican playbook calls for linking Democratic congressional candidates to Nancy Pelosi.
Saccone, a veteran state legislator, did not speak.
"I'll be back for Rick, and we're going to fill up a stadium and we're going to do something really special for Rick", Trump said.
The seat was left open after GOP Rep. Tim Murphy resigned after reports he asked an extramarital affair to end her pregnancy.
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This is the first congressional race since Trump and allies suffered the biggest political setback of his tenure: The Republican loss of a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama.
But Trump went further than just praising the positive effects of the tax-cut bill. "Trump has pushed for a tax plan that would increase Pennsylvanians' taxes and strip them of their health care".
Barb Fabus, 61, a pre-school assistant from Castle Shannon, Pa., said she hopes Trump can rally Republicans, but she noted that Democrats seem especially fired up to deal him a defeat.
"They're whistling going by the grave yard", Kelly said. The Kentucky Republican told reporters about a slow-to-emerge immigration deal: "I'm looking for something that President Trump supports".
"You can dig up up something on anybody you want", said Jack Welch, 64, a field office manager for a pipeline company who lives in Hickory, Pa. With Trump unpopular in many places, and with midterm dynamics often favoring the party out of power, the GOP faces a tough fight to maintain control of Congress.
But the White House insisted it was not actually a campaign stop - and Trump mostly kept 25 minutes of remarks focused on the Republican tax plan that his party muscled through Congress in late December.
"This is a landmark reform", Stepien said of the tax package Trump signed late past year.
Trump's event also is in the Pittsburgh-area district where Saccone is running.
Trump's political appeal "depends totally on what electorate you're talking about", political analyst Stuart Rothenberg said.
Trump won the district by almost 20 points in the November 2016 presidential election and surprised political observers by winning Pennsylvania, traditionally a Democratic-leaning state, by less than 1 percent. No one will say.
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